The Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is a noisy tree squirrel with a light-colored eye ring. Photo: Walter Siegmund, Creative Commons License.
The Douglas squirrel is a small, noisy tree squirrel common in Sierra Nevada pine/fir forests (Steele 1999) and north into Oregon, Washington and Canada (view range map from IUCN). Along the Truckee River, Douglas squirrels are most likely to be seen among along upper reaches of river where pines and firs are present. The Douglas’ squirrel is sometimes called the “Chickaree”, and was described by John Muir in The Mountains of California as “by far the most interesting and influential of the California sciuridae [squirrel family]”.
During spring, Douglas squirrels feed on the tips of pine and fir branches. During other parts of the year, they feed on fruits, berries, tree seeds (from cones of pine and fir trees) and fungi (Steele 1999; Linzey & NatureServe 2008). Squirrels build stockpiles of cones and seeds near the center of their territories called “middens”, often storing enough food to last for more than one season (Steele 1999).
Douglas squirrels breed during March-May, and give birth to 2-8 young (usually 4-6) during May and June (Linzey & NatureServe 2008). They build nests in forks of trees out of twigs, mosses, lichens and bark. They are very noisy, and communicate messages using five calls — a chirp, a rattle, a screech, a growl, and a buzz (Steele 1999). Predators include bobcats, coyotes and owls (Linzey & NatureServe 2008).
Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) 2008. Tamiasciurus douglasii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed: October 14, 2014 ).
Steele, Michael A. 1999. Tamiasciurus douglasii. Mammalian Species. No. 630, pp.1-8. American Society of Mammalogists, 3 Dec. 1999. http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-630-01-0001.pdf